Robbery after bank visit leaves woman distraught
A woman has been left traumatised by a brazen daylight encounter with armed thugs who robbed her of $500,000 after she returned home from the bank.
The incident, which occurred in late November, continues to replay in her head and has left her paranoid and on edge, dampening the feeling of joy the Christmas period normally brings.
The son of the 50-year-old woman on Monday spoke to the Jamaica Observer on her behalf as she was still too distraught about the incident.
He explained that on that fateful day his mother went inside a bank in Liguanea to withdraw money to take with her on a trip overseas scheduled for the following day.
“She drew the currency for the country she was going and it is suspected that the robbers followed her home and they robbed her at the gate, taking her bag which had her money, her phone, her purse â€” all her identification,” he said.
The son says he is convinced the robbers followed his mother home based on the actions of the hoodlums, who were caught on closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
“They followed her home; it wasn’t random. They rode past the house and then turned back as she turned into the yard. When she turned in the yard they rode past the house, turned back, and as soon as she came out of the car and was opening the door they ran up to her before she could get a chance to open the door properly, and grabbed her bag at gunpoint,” he said.
In the short video footage seen by the Observer, two men drove up on a motorcycle as the woman entered her gate. The pillion rider, sporting a broad-rimmed hat and brandishing a small handgun, hopped off the bike, ran up the driveway, and in a split second stretched over the fence, grabbed the handbag, and ran back to the bike which sped off.
The son says his mother was taken by surprise as she had no idea she was being trailed. He says she recalled that she was “so scared, and saw death” when the robber pointed his gun at her, and did not hesitate to let them have what they came for. He says his mother is also grateful she was not harmed.
When asked why his mother decided to take cash with her on her trip he said that while cards could have been a better option, his mother is afraid of using these overseas at the risk of them being cloned, and she also wanted to ensure she stayed within her budget.
The son says there have been multiple reports of people being robbed coming from that bank and banks in the Liguanea area. However this was not substantiated by the police.
A senior cop the Observer contacted said robberies in the area “are not frequent events” but pointed to at least one other incident which took place in September. At the same time he advised citizens to be aware of their surroundings and to exercise extra vigilance, especially during the holiday period.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has provided general safety tips for the Yuletide season. To prevent robberies, the police are advising citizens to ensure that valuable personal possessions (for example, cash and high-end electronic devices) are properly secured or concealed.
“We encourage persons transporting large sums of cash to utilise cash escort services offered by private security companies,” the police said.
The police also noted that thieves are utilising motorcycles and other vehicles to commit robberies, so citizens should be aware of their surroundings and avoid using devices like earphones while commuting.
“Trust your judgement. If you feel there may be a threat, go somewhere safe such as your nearest police station,” the cops advise.
The police have further advised citizens to avoid wearing excessive jewellery, particularly gold, especially when walking in areas with high pedestrian traffic.
“Always ensure that your house and car keys are easily accessible, to minimise the time it takes to enter homes and vehicles. Walk in well-lit areas, and avoid walking alone. If you think you are being followed, trust your instincts and proceed to a crowded area, maintain your vigilance, and go to the nearest police station if possible,” the JCF said.
In addition, the police are advising people not to leave valuable items on motor vehicle seats or areas within the vehicle that make them visible to passers-by. Persons using automated teller machines (ATM) are also urged to be vigilant and to protect their debit/credit card information. Avoid using ATMs in secluded areas.
“Travellers are urged to be alert at the airport, and be mindful of people who are not legitimately authorised to load and unload vehicles or provide transportation. If you believe you are being followed, proceed to a busy location and contact the police immediately,” the cops further advised.